The Skinny on Interval Training

I’m sure by now, most people have heard about interval training, or metabolic training somewhere. But do you know what it is,and why so many people are claiming that it works so well? I’m going to show you what it is, how it works, and how you can make it work for you.

There is more and more information emerging claiming that interval training is the way to go for weight loss, and that slow, steady state aerobics are out the door. Now, there are several different kinds of interval training, each of which can be useful for attaining certain fitness goals, as can slow, steady state aerobic training. As with everything else, it all depends on your goals and what you are trying to achieve with your workouts, your body, and your fitness levels. That said, let’s take a look at the different kinds of interval training, what each one can accomplish, and at the different effects of interval training, and steady state aerobic exercise.

Interval training is relatively short, intense periods of work, followed by periods of rest, or active recovery. Interval training can be either anaerobic, or aerobic. These terms refer to the energy system being stressed. Now, the energy system being used depends on the duration of the activity. In the simplest terms, anaerobic activity is usually defined as short in duration, and stressing either the phosphogen or glycolitic system. Aerobic activity is defined as longer in duration, and utilizing oxygen as the primary fuel source.

So, the longer the duration of the activity being performed, the less anaerobic, and the more aerobic it becomes. Intervals performed for work periods of 4 or more minutes are predominately aerobic in nature, and work periods shorter than 4 minutes are more anaerobic.

Numerous studies have shown that performing intervals can burn more fat, and improve fitness more quickly than steady state aerobic training. Research has shown the reason why interval training is so effective in losing weight and increasing fitness levels is because the metabolism stays elevated even after you stop exercising. And depending on the kind of interval training you are doing, the metabolism can stay elevated for 12 to 24 hours afterward.

So, not only are you burning calories while you perform intervals, your body actually continues to burn them at an accelerated rate after you finish exercising. Combine this with weight training, which can increase your lean muscle mass, and therefore your basal metabolic rate, and you can drastically increase your body’s calorie consuming capacity.

Steady state aerobic training is still great, if that’s what you like to do. Getting out and going for a hike or a bike ride, or a run can be fun, and a great way to get some exercise. Also, if you’re training for a long distance running event, then according to the principle of specificity you should be doing some long distance running in your training. However, to achieve maximal fitness levels you should also be doing some interval training as well.

Basically, interval training is a great tool in increasing fitness levels, and in losing weight. The kind of interval training that’s right for you, like every other kind of exercise, depends on what your goals are. There are a number of different ways to incorporate intervals into your training. The duration and frequency of the exercise performed, as well as the work-rest period ratios all depend on your specific goals, and ability levels.

If fat loss is your goal, keep work periods between 30 sec and1 min. You can start with a 1:2 work – rest ratio, and build up to 1:1, 2:1, or even greater depending on your fitness level. If you have never performed interval training before, start light, and be preparedthis type of training can be difficult! You can base intensity levels of your work and rest periods on the way you feel, or on your heart rate. The type of activity you perform (running, rowing, cycling, weight lifting) is up to you, and can be determined by your own preferences.

Intervals can increase your aerobic capacity and increase the amount of calories you expend. So if you want to lose weight, get better at your sport, or just take your fitness to the next level, then try incorporating some interval training into your routine and see what happens!

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